Sealink


Sealink was a ferry company based in the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1984, operating services to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Channel Islands, Isle of Wight and Ireland.

Sealink was originally the brand name for the ferry services of British Rail which ran shipping services in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Services to France, Belgium and the Netherlands were also run by Sealink UK as part of the Sealink consortium which also used ferries owned by French national railways (SNCF), the Belgian Maritime Transport Authority, Regie voor Maritiem Transport/Regie des transports maritimes (RMT/RTM) and the Dutch Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland (SMZ).

Historically, the shipping services were exclusively an extension of the railways across the English Channel and the Irish Sea in order to provide through, integrated services to Europe and Ireland. As international travel became more popular in the late 1960s and before air travel became generally affordable, the responsibility for shipping services was taken away from the British Rail Regions and in 1969 centralised in a new division – British Rail Shipping and International Services Division.

With the advent of car ferry services the old passenger-only ferries were gradually replaced by roll-on-roll-off ships catering both for motorists and rail passengers as well as road freight. However, given that there was now competition in the form of other ferry companies offering crossings to motorists, it became necessary to market the services in a normal business fashion (as opposed to the previous almost monopolistic situation). Thus, with the other partners mentioned above, the brand name Sealink was introduced for the consortium.

As demand for international rail travel declined and the shipping business became almost exclusively dependent on passenger and freight vehicle traffic, the ferry business was incorporated as Sealink UK Limited in 1978, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Railways Board (BRB).

On 27 July 1984 the UK Government sold Sealink UK Limited to Sea Containers. The company was renamed Sealink British Ferries.

In 1991, Sea Containers sold Sealink British Ferries to Stena Line. The Isle of Wight Services were excluded from the deal and were retained by Sea Containers operating as Wightlink.

The new owners rebranded the company name to Sealink Stena Line, then again a few years later to Stena Sealink Line.

In 1996, the Sealink name disappeared when the UK services were re-branded as Stena Line.

The pool agreement with the SNCF on the Dover to Calais route also ended at this time and the French run Sealink services were rebranded as SeaFrance.

Sealink Archive

The Dover Train Ferry Dock 1936-1988

In 1933 Southern Railway undertook to order three new train ferries and to construct a train ferry dock at Dover. It was agreed that a site, lying between the South Pier and the base of the Admiralty Pier, would be suitable.

© Andreas Wörteler

HSC Stena Lynx I (Incat 031) – Past and Present

HSC Seacat Moorea, ex Mandarin, Ocean Flower, Avant, Stena Lynx, Stena Sea Lynx – Aluminium catamaran built in 1993 by Incat (International Catamarans) Australia Pty. Ltd., Hobart, Australia (Yard No. 031) for Buquebus International, Nassau, Bahamas as a car and passenger ferry. Launched February 7th 1993.

© Andreas Wörteler

MV Stena Challenger – Past and Present

MV Leif Ericson, ex Stena Challenger – Steel motor vessel, built by Bruces Verkstad A/B, Landskrona , Sweden (Yard No. 20) and fitted out by Mekaniske Verksted, Trondheim, Norway (Yard No. 44) in 1991 as a passenger and roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry, for Stena Rederi AB, Gothenburg.

MV Stena Invicta – Past and Present

MV Color Viking, ex Stena Invicta, Peder Paars – Steel motor vessel, built by Nakskov Skibsværft A/S, Denmark (233) for DSB (Danish State Railways) in 1985 (Yard No 233) as a passenger and roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry

© Pieter Inpyn

MV Seafrance Monet – Past and Present

MV Volcan de Tacande, ex Seafrance Monet, Stena Londoner, Versailles, Stena Nautica – Steel twin screw motor vessel built by Brodogradiliste Jozo Lozovina Mosor, Trogir, Yugoslavia in 1974 (Yard No. 163) for Stena Ab, Göteborg as a roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry

© Brian Fisher

MV Fantasia – Past and Present

MV Wawel, ex Alkmini A, PO Canterbury, P&OSL Canterbury, Stena Fantasia, Fantasia, Fiesta, Tzarevetz, Scandinavia – Steel twin screw motor vessel, originally built in 1979 by Kockums Varv (shipyard) AB, Malmo, Sweden (Yard No. 569), as SCANDINAVIA for Rederi AB Nordo, Sweden, a passenger and roll-on roll-off and commercial vehicle ferry.

© Ted Ingham

MV Saint Patrick II – Past and Present

MV CTMA Vacancier, ex City of Cork, Ville de Sete, Egnatia II, Saint Patrick II, Aurella – Steel twin screw motor vessel, built by J.J. Sietas KG Schiffswerft GmbH & Co. Ltd,. in Hamburg in 1973 for S F Line of Finland (Yard No 702). Originally named AURELLA, a passenger, roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry

Andreas Wörteler Collection

MV Viking I – Past and Present

MV Edi, ex Media V, Viking I – Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1964 by Kaldnes Mekaniske Verksted A/S. Tonsberg, Norway, (Yard No 158) for Otto Thoresen Shipping Co. A/S, Oslo, Norway, as a passenger and vehicle ferry

© Ted Ingham

MV Free Enterprise III – Past and Present

MV Al Fahad – ex Mona’s Isle, Tamira, Free Enterprise III – Steel twin screw motor vessel, built by N.V. Werf “Gusto”, Schiedam, (Yard No. CO 538) Holland, for Townsend Bros. Ferries Ltd, in 1966 as a passenger and roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry. Engined by J. & K. Smit, Kinderdijk

© Brian Fisher

MV Reine Astrid (II) – Past and Present

MV Al Mansour, ex Reine Astrid (II), Stena Nautica, Hellas, Stena Nordica – Steel twin screw motor vessel built by Rickmers Werft. GmbH, Bremerhaven in 1975 (Yard No. 382) for Stena Ab, Goteborg as a roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry